True Grit (with a spoiler)

December 28, 2010

I find I can’t really be objective about this one.  It hit one of my major triggers fairly spectacularly toward the end, and I’m having a hard time thinking of anything else about it.  Which means this is a very good movie that I’ll probably never be able to watch again.

I fully expect all the lead actors will get Oscar nominations.  I really loved the language, which was nigh Shakespearean, formal and mythic, which a western ought to be.  People keep proclaiming the western is dead, then every few years a great example of the genre comes along, and so people keep making them and I expect always will.

The movie’s about a lot of things.  One of the things it’s about is a girl and her horse (a genre that’s almost as mythic and sacred as the western, really).  Mattie is doing a very difficult thing, and she finds a friend to help her — a beautiful, wonderful horse who does everything she asks, who she can confide in, and so on.  I fell in love with that horse the moment she did.  On this, the Coen brothers had my number and dialed direct to my lizard brain.  Which is why when I realized the horse was going to die — tragically, cruelly, with Mattie screaming the whole time — I pretty much lost it.

I once stayed up all night with my beautiful, beloved horse while she was dying of colic.  She didn’t get better, and at dawn we put her to sleep.  I knew exactly how Mattie felt.  True Grit put me right back there.  Now, good art is supposed to speak to us in deep and personal ways.  I appreciate that.  This is a good movie, and my reaction to it is idiosyncratic.  But there it is.

It’s funny — sometimes I can watch movies or read stories in which horses die tragically and I’m fine.  Last month in London, I went to see War Horse, a play about draft horses in World War I, which should have wreaked me, but I got through it without a problem.  This one shouldn’t have been particularly unexpected — horses die in westerns all the time.  This time, I think seeing exactly how it was going to happen (like staying up through the night with a colicking horse), and seeing it through the eyes of a teenage girl, made it particularly difficult.

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4 Responses to “True Grit (with a spoiler)”

  1. Jinx Says:

    I really want to see this movie. I will prepare myself for the horse dying as I love horses. But being born and raised in Texas I just can’t resist a good western.LOL i caught myself watching the Quick and the Dead lastnight on netflix!

  2. Bradford Says:

    The funny thing is: I had just posted a trailer of True Grit on my Facebook page before I visited your blog today.

    I think there are certain scenes in movies that are so traumatic that they carve a place in your subconscious mind (especially if you see the movie when you are young.) Two such scenes affected me that way in True Grit. The death of the horse, which you wrote about in your blog, and the snake pit scene.

    I think the new movie version of True Grit is excellent and I would give it a big recommendation to folks whether or not they’ve seen the original movie.

  3. spiderorchid Says:

    Okay, another reason for me not to see this movie (the other would be that I like the original too much) – I can’t stand seeing animals die, even if it’s just in a movie… Thanks for the review – it sounds like a well-made movie, just not my kind. ^_^

  4. Sharon Says:

    My main problem with it was that Rooster rode ride past the bad guy’s horse, who was just standing there. Why not take both and switch horses along the way? Maybe the girl’s horse might have still died…but maybe not. Argh.


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